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The Loyalty of Faith

Adapted by David Deschesne from Josiah Royce’s The Philosophy of Loyalty, ©1908 Macmillan Company. This text is excerpted from Roye’s dissertation on loyalty. Deschesne has slightly changed the wording from the generics of loyalty to the specifics of Faith in our Heavenly Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. Other than those subtle changes, the spirit and intent of Royce is preserved. Changes from original are in italic.

By:  David Deschesne

Editor, Fort Fairfield Journal, December 6, 2006, p. 9

To keep our Faith steadfast through defeat is something that we often view as a sort of extra strain upon Faith, - the overcoming of a painful hindrance to Faith. We ought not so to view the matter. Defeat and sorrow, when they are incurred in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, ought rather to be a positive aid to Faith. If we rightly view them, they will prove to be such an aid to Faith. For they enable us to see whether we have really given ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, or whether what we took for Faith was a mere flare of sanguine emotion. When sorrow over a defeat in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ reverberates all through us, it can be made to reveal whatever Faith we have. Let us turn our attention to this revelation, even while we suffer. We shall then know for what we have been living. And whoever, once deliberately dwelling upon his Lord Jesus Christ at a moment of defeat, does not find the Lord dearer to him because of his grief, has indeed yet to learn what Faith is. The Lord Jesus Christ, furthermore, when viewed in the light of our sorrow over our loss of present fortunes, at once tends to become idealized, - as the lost throne of David was idealized by Israel, and as the departed Master’s cause was idealized by the early church.1

Such cases of Faith are typical. They involve, I have said, the willingness of the Faithful man to do his service. The Faithful man’s Lord is his Lord by virtue of the assent of his own will. His devotion is his own. He chooses him, or, at all events, approves of him. Moreover, his devotion is a practical one. He does something. This something serves his Lord. Faith is never mere emotion. Adoration and affection may go with Faith, but can never alone constitute Faith. Furthermore, the devotion of the Faithful man involves a sort of restraint or submission of his natural desires to his Lord. Faith without self-control is impossible. The Faithful man serves. That is, he does not merely follow his own impulses. He looks to his Lord for guidance. The Lord tells him what to do, and he does it. His devotion, furthermore, is entire. He is ready to live or to die as the Lord directs.2

Do not forever whet the sword of your resolve. Begin the battle of real individuality...There is only one way to acquire salvation. That is to choose the Lord Jesus Christ and then to serve him.3

Let the Lord Jesus so possess you that, even in the most thrilling of crisis of your practical service to Him, you can say: “I am the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, His reasonable, His willing, His devoted instrument, and, being such, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak save as the Lord Jesus shall command.” Let this be your bearing, and this your deed. Then, indeed, you know you have salvation. And you have won the attitude which constitutes genuine personal dignity. What an individual in his practical bearing can be, you now are. And herein, as I have said, lies for you salvation.4

Faith means giving the Self to the Lord. And the art of giving is learned by giving. Strain, endurance, sacrifice, toil, - the dear pangs of labor at the moments when perhaps defeat and grief most seem ready to crush our powers, and when only the very vehemence of Faith itself saves us from utter despair, - these are the things that most teach us what Faith really is.5



1. The Philosophy of Loyalty, 1995 Edition by Vanderbilt University Press, p. 136

2. ibid, p. 10

3. ibid, p. 47

4. ibid, p. 51

5. ibid, p. 138